In the first two parts of our interview Rashad Evans discussed 128 and the steps he is taking to round out his fight game. In the third and final installment we went back a bit further and addressed the fine line between hyping a fight and taking things personal. Evans was a part of one of 2010's biggest feuds as his back and forth with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson culminated at UFC 114.
"After the fight was over everybody was out there saying that I'm a boring fighter and I didn't understand it," Evans described. "I won the fight and there were two of us in it so why is it that I'm boring and Rampage isn't? He didn't do anything until the final round and I won the fight but people want to say that I am boring. The only thing you can ask for in a fight is there has to be a "thriller moment" where you don't know what is going to happen and it keeps you on the edge of your seat and I think that happened in our fight. That happened at the beginning when I caught him and it happened at the end. He had me down and everybody was up on their feet thinking that I was going to be finished but then I comeback and the fight ends. That's exciting! All you can ask for in a fight is that moment where it can be anybody's fight to take and we definitely had that when we fought but somehow it turned out to be a boring fight."
While the grudge between Jackson and Evans seems to surge and simmer, using trash talk to promote a fight is an ongoing trend. The most recent incident came between TUF season three winner Michael Bisping and Jorge Rivera at last weekend's UFC 127. After a heated build up between the two fighters, Bisping's cup ran over and after he finished Rivera, took to spitting on his corner men.
"I just think Bisping got caught up a little too much in the moment and took it too personal," Evans explained when asked about the incident at UFC 127. "One thing I learned is to never take anything too personal because when you do that you are showing a lot more about insecurities that you may have because of what the person said. You have to always keep it in a place where you don't allow it to become personal to the point where you can't come back from it. I think he got a little bit caught up in it all. It can be something is fun for the fans to watch but if you take it too far you can make the entire sport look bad so there is a fine line and you don't want to cross that line and take it personal because it's not. At the end of the day it's this...Me and you have a contract. That's it. I'm not coming to your house and picking a fight with you. We have a contract to fight each other. This is our job and in order to make the job interesting let's lay something on the line. Let's talk some trash and have fun. Let's make it easy to train and you think you can beat me? I don't think you can and let's have fun the whole way through building the fight up. At the same time, when it's done and over with...it's done and over with. I'm not going to go and slap you in the face or spit on anybody you are affiliated with because it's out of respect. You stepped in the cage to fight me and you fulfilled your obligation. We fought and had it out and no matter how that performance went you have to instantly respect the person for being willing to get in there and fight. Then you just let it go."
Throughout his career Evans has consistently found himself on the short end of fan appreciation and even drawn the public scorn of UFC President Dana White. Issues ranging from his fighting style to his refusal to fight friends have brought criticism down on Evans, and despite his impressive record, finding respect and appreciation continues to be an uphill battle.
"Like I was saying earlier I try not to take anything personal," Evans replied when asked about remaining positive despite the negative feedback he receives. "Sometimes I do throw little pity parties or I do get a little upset when things get said or things happen but then I just reflect on the fact that right now I'm living the dream. This whole ride or journey that I've been on has been absolutely amazing. I have absolutely no regrets and I am the most blessed person, in my eyes because I get to wake up every single day and do what I love to do. There is nothing anyone can say to me to ever make me feel any different about that. Every single day I wake up and if I start feeling down about something I just remember how blessed I am and how much I came up and how much I made it because growing up...I grew up extremely poor and I wasn't supposed to make it this far. Look at me right now. I've overcome so much already in my life and I have nothing but smiles and joy and positivity because I know things can always be worse."
The former UFC light heavyweight champion has only suffered one loss in his professional career that came at the hands of Lyoto Machida at UFC 98. Since losing the title Evans has earned back to back wins over tough competition and once again regained a spot atop the division. With that being said, what happens from here on out could be what ultimately defines Rashad Evans's mixed martial arts career and while this may not be the most important factor it certainly isn't something that has been lost on Evans.
"It's always hard to say when you are in the situation so that's up for the fans to decide," Evans replied when asked about his legacy in MMA."I'm just going out there and trying to win each fight. A legacy is being built because each fight brings me a step closer to my last fight so at the end of the day I hope there is some type of legacy left behind. At the same time I don't really see it like that because I'm still so present in what I'm doing. I think legacy is more of an afterthought or a reflection like looking through the yearbook of my career but right now I'm not really at that point because I'm still so active in it. Some people don't get the roses until it's too late to smell them and I think I might be one of those people. I think my contribution to the sport is really not going to be recognized until my fighting days are over. A lot of fighters that were good in their time didn't really get the recognition until after their careers were over. I think that may be what happens with me."
With the interview coming to a close the focus came back to the Evans's return to the octagon. Rehabilitating his injured knee will take priority over everything else but once he is back to full health, getting back to the UFC light heavyweight championship will be the only thing on "Suga's" mind.
"I'm trying to come back July 2nd (at yet to be announced UFC 132) but finding an opponent may be the only difficult part about it," Evans stated. "If I find an opponent I'll come back in July but right now I'm taking it one day at a time. I'm going to heal up, spend some time with these kids and just get back in there and fight. I honestly missed it so much and to be out for so long then to have the break happen and things go down the way they did it has been tough. It has tested me in many ways but now I just have that feeling that I want to get back in there and fight again. Going in and there and feeling that wave of emotions that happens when you have to go in there and fight. It is an emotional rollercoaster when you are getting ready for a fight and I love that feeling because every single time I go through it I feel like I learned something about myself."